Living in Light of Two Ages
Here's the audio from the sixth and final lecture in Ken Samples' Academy lecture series "If I Had Lunch with St. Augustine." The lecture is entitled, "Augustine’s Alleged Blind Spot and Negative Influence. Click Here
Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam
What are the major differences between Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, and how can we reach out to people with Hindu or Muslim backgrounds? On this live edition of White Horse Inn, Michael Horton will discuss these important issues with Hicham Chehab of Salaam Christian Fellowship and Isaac Shaw of Delhi Bible Institute.
Thankfully, we don't have Waffle House in So Cal. But I've been in one on several occasions. Many customers were smoking. Once I found partially removed lip-stick on my coffee cup, and on another stop there were remnants of a petrified fried egg stuck to my plate. Yet the food wasn't bad . . . Hard to ruin breakfast.
Earlier this month, the Mormon Church officially acknowledged what the most ardent of Mormons did not know (or refused to believe); that Joseph Smith had at least forty wives.
According to a recent article in the The New York Times (a once reputable and respected publication),
Mormon leaders have acknowledged for the first time that the church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.
The church’s disclosures, in a series of essays online, are part of an effort to be transparent about its history at a time when church members are increasingly encountering disturbing claims about the faith on the Internet. Many Mormons, especially those with polygamous ancestors, say they were well aware that Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, practiced polygamy when he led the flock in Salt Lake City. But they did not know the full truth about Smith.
If those outside the church found this revelation as confirmation of what was self-evidently true (that Smith made up Mormon doctrine as he went along--as in the case of "plural" marriage), it came as a real shock to the Mormon faithful who are used to the idealized image and life story of the Joseph Smith portrayed in the painting above. One life-long Mormon was especially taken aback by the revelation that Smith had as many as 40 wives, including a young teenage girl.
“Joseph Smith was presented to me as a practically perfect prophet, and this is true for a lot of people,” said Emily Jensen, a blogger and editor in Farmington, Utah, who often writes about Mormon issues.
She said the reaction of some Mormons to the church’s disclosures resembled the five stages of grief in which the first stage is denial, and the second is anger. Members are saying on blogs and social media, “This is not the church I grew up with, this is not the Joseph Smith I love,” Ms. Jensen said.
What makes the revelation of Joseph Smith actually practicing what he preached (plural marriage) so problematic is not that he had multiple wives, or even that he married a teenager (as bad as that was), but that he was sealed to other men's wives for eternity. The shock is not plural marriage, but what amounts to perpetual and eternal adultery.
The essay on “plural marriage” in the early days of the Mormon movement in Ohio and Illinois says polygamy was commanded by God, revealed to Smith and accepted by him and his followers only very reluctantly. Abraham and other Old Testament patriarchs had multiple wives, and Smith preached that his church was the “restoration” of the early, true Christian church.
Most of Smith’s wives were between the ages of 20 and 40, the essay says, but he married Helen Mar Kimball, a daughter of two close friends, “several months before her 15th birthday.” A footnote says that according to “careful estimates,” Smith had 30 to 40 wives.
The biggest bombshell for some in the essays is that Smith married women who were already married, some to men who were Smith’s friends and followers.
The revelation of Smith's other-shore eternal philandering presents major problems for Mormons because Joseph Smith did the very thing which church doctrine promulgated under his tenure as God's "prophet, seer, and revelator," expressly prohibits.
There remains one way in which polygamy is still a part of Mormon belief: The church teaches that a man who was “sealed” in marriage to his wife in a temple ritual, then loses his wife to death or divorce, can be sealed to a second wife and would be married to both wives in the afterlife. However, women who have been divorced or widowed cannot be sealed to more than one man.
I think it was Donald Grey Barnhouse who once quipped that you can always tell a false religion invented by a man--there will be sex (usually lots of it) in the afterlife. In this case, Joseph Smith not only "sealed himself" to multiple maidens and widows, but also to other men's wives.
I wonder what the husbands of these wives would have done, had they known the prophet was ogling their wives with less than honorable intentions, and was actively scheming to prevent them from enjoying their own eternal marital pleasures by stealing their wives for himself.
The Seventh in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John
John the Baptist said of Jesus, “he must increase and I must decrease.” In the closing verses of John chapter 1 this is exactly what happens. John identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John also identifies Jesus and the very Son of God. Jesus is that one greater than John, who was before John, and about whom John had been preaching. But John represents the old order of things about to pass away into obsolescence, because the turning point in redemptive history has come. When Jesus approaches John a second time, John directs two of his own disciples to follow Jesus because he knows the messianic mission of Jesus is about to begin.
As we continue our series on John’s Gospel, John’s account now moves on from the messianic forerunner (John the Baptist) to the Messiah himself. In verses 35-51 of John 1 (our text), the focus shifts away from preliminary matters to the formal beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In this section, we have John’s account (likely as an eyewitness and participant) of Jesus initial meeting of several of the men who would become his first followers, men whom eventually we come to know as Jesus’ “disciples.” Our text can be a bit confusing because it recounts events not found in the other gospels, and which at first glace may even seem to contradict the account of these same events in the synoptics. As we will see, this is not the case and these issues are easily resolved.
As we saw a couple of sermons ago, the events which follow immediately after the prologue of John (vv. 1-18) focus first upon John the Baptist (vv. 19-28), then John’s identification of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (vv. 29-34). But in our passage (vv. 35-51), John recounts events which occur over the next two days. The time line and chronology which is set out by John in this section of his Gospel is interesting, if not highly symbolic. In verses 19-28, the first day in this sequence of events, John the Baptist (the other John) is confronted by a group of Levites and priests from Jerusalem. These men (who are likely aligned with the Sadducees) were either sent by Pharisees, or else included Pharisees among their number. This is significant because the Sadducees and Pharisees were theological and political enemies–they hated each other, but were united in their opposition to John.
John the Baptist was the son of a priest and Levite, and so the group of Jews who came from Jerusalem to confront him out in the Judean wilderness, were probably troubled that one of their own had strayed from the faith. When the group finds John, they ask him if he is the Messiah. John says no. They ask him if he is the prophet. He says no. They ask him if he is Elijah come back from heaven. John says he is not. Well, then who is he? John tells his inquisitors that he is the voice out in the wilderness (foretold in Isaiah 40), warning Israel that the Messiah is about to be revealed. But the real issue for the group sent from Jerusalem is that John is preaching and baptizing without the permission and sanction of the Jewish religious leadership, and even worse, the number of people following John out in the wilderness is growing rapidly. Something significant is going on. Messianic expectation was reaching a fever pitch.
To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here
Sunday Morning (November 23): We will conclude our sermon series on 1 Peter. This coming Lord's Day we will turn our attention to 1 Peter 5:1-14 once again, this time focusing upon Peter's exhortation to cast our cares upon the Lord. Our Lord's Day worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: We are continuing our study of the Canons of Dort, and we are currently in the 3rd/4th Head of Doctrine. We are discussing the consequences of rejecting the doctrine of human inability (Refutation of Errors, paragraphs 6-9). Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study (November 19): We continue our study of the Book of Romans with a rapid-fire "run through Romans." We will work our way through Romans 9-11. Bible Study begins at 7:30 p.m.
Academy (November 21): Prof. Ken Samples wraps up his six week Academy series entitled, "If I Had Lunch with St. Augustine." Ken's sixth and final lecture is entitled, "Augustine’s Alleged Blind Spot and Negative Influence."
For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website: Christ Reformed Church
Here's the audio from Ken's Academy lecture, "Augustine’s Most Enduring Philosophical Idea."
Pluralism & the American Religion
What are the beliefs and assumptions of contemporary American spirituality? Why is it that so many people pick and choose their religious beliefs based on what makes them happy—rather than by evaluating their truth claims? On this edition of White Horse Inn recorded before a live audience in Vail, Colorado, the hosts, along with special guest Greg Koukl, discuss these questions and more as they outline the characteristics of the American Religion